Under North Carolina workers’ compensation law, you can be denied workers’ comp benefits if it can be established that:
- You were under the influence of an illicit drug such as marijuana, meth, or cocaine at the time of your accident, and
- Being under the influence contributed to your injury
However, while many clients worry that they will be ineligible to receive workers' compensation benefits if they fail a drug test after an accident, a positive drug test does not automatically make you ineligible for benefits.
How Long are Drugs Detectible in the Body?
The presence of an illicit drug in the urine does not indicate a person’s current – or even very recent – level of intoxication. All drugs, including those that are legal, remain present in the body even after the effects have worn off.
Marijuana, for example, may remain present in the urine for up to 30 days. Meth can show positive on a drug test for up to six days. This must be taken into account when a worker tests positive for drug use while filing for workers’ comp in North Carolina.
A 5-panel drug screen, which is the most common, tests for cocaine, amphetamine/methamphetamine, opiates (morphine, heroin), Phencyclidine (PCP), and THC (marijuana). All of these will remain in the body for at least 24 hours, with most remaining present for periods of up to one week. As mentioned above, marijuana may be present for up to one month.
When a drug test is expanded to a 10-panel, propoxyphene, methadone, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and methaqualone, all of which are legal with a prescription but can alter behavior and reaction time, are added to the screen. These medications, used legally or illegally, will also remain in the system even after their effects have worn off. Benzodiazepines alone can remain present in urine for up to six weeks.
You Need a Lawyer
At White & Stradley, PLLC, we understand that people are sometimes prescribed medications that can alter their mental and physical abilities. We also understand that, on occasion, people take recreational drugs during their off hours. We do not believe that the use of these substances should mean you lose all hope of receiving workers' comp benefits when you sustain an on-the-job injury. In fact, one often has nothing at all to do with the other.
The mere fact that a drug screen registered the presence of marijuana or any other drug in your system does not mean you were high at the time of your accident and, therefore, does not render you ineligible for workers' comp benefits. It does, however, complicate issues. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company might refuse to pay out once it learns of a positive drug test. It may also refuse to pay out if you refuse to take the test. Without legal representation, you may have little to no recourse if this happens.
The experienced Raleigh workers’ comp lawyers at White & Stradley, PLLC understand the complexities of North Carolina workers’ compensation laws. We are here to protect your rights and assist you in getting fair compensation for your on-the-job injury. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation where we can review the details of your case and advise you on the best course of action.
If you live in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greenville, or any North Carolina community and you need an experienced workers' comp lawyer, please call White & Stradley, PLLC at 919-863-9397 to schedule your confidential and free consultation today.